Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's a big, big house...

One of the difficult parts of being a caregiver is being separated from the mainstream. There are many times that we can feel very alone. And this alone-ness can eat away at your soul. You can feel very disconnected from friends and even family as time goes by. It's not always an every day thing but there are certainly periods of time that you can feel this deep loneliness.It's not really anybody's fault - they mostly just do not know what to do with us since our lives are so different. But we are a part of something much bigger.

Ephesians 2:19 says this you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and are of God's household...Somehow even in the loneliness there is comfort in knowing that we are a part of His household. We are not separated from God nor the true body of Christ. If we think about how huge His household must be it helps to bring comfort and wash away a small bit of the alone-ness.

We think of our household as those who are residing with us in this present time. But God's household spans all time. Every person that we read about in scriptures that followed after God is in His household. All the believers from the beginning of time to the very second you are reading this post - are all in His household. As big as it is - we are a part of it!

Take some time today to think about your rich heritage in Christ. He took away all the walls of separation and made us into one body. God's family encompasses time - and we fit nicely into His household. Instead of dwelling on the present alone-ness today - consider how Christ has made us a part of His eternal family.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Finding Wisdom

For caregivers each day can bring with it many decisions that must be made. These are difficult enough when making them for ourselves, but for those who are taking care of someone else they can be quite frustrating and even more difficult. While we cannot always look up word for word what we should do in each situation, we can turn to scripture for wisdom.

Proverbs 2:6 states this: The Lord gives wisdom. From His mouth come knowledge and understanding. That just about covers it all really. He will give us wisdom. James chapter one says that He gives wisdom to those who ask of Him. That part is actually pretty simple. What makes it difficult is waiting on His answers. We tend to ask for wisdom and then try to walk on in our own strength. Wisdom is not impatient and sometimes it dictates that we do not make decisions too hastily. We can ask - and He will give us the wisdom to walk through difficult days and make difficult decisions.

The other part of this verse says that from His mouth come two things: knowledge and understanding. What comes from our mouth? Our words. So from His word - spoken or written we can gain understanding as well as knowledge.

These three - wisdom, knowledge and understanding, are not withheld from us because of adverse circumstances. His promises are all still just as true for us today as they have ever been. Today - remember to ask Him for direction for the big things; then remember to ask Him for wisdom in the small things too. Stay in His word to find knowledge and understanding.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sow What!

The life of a caregiver does not include enough time to get bored. And although the loneliness can chip away at our soul, there are never two days alike and plenty of chores that simply must be done every single day to keep us plenty busy. Sometimes I look at how much I need to get done in a day and wonder if I will make it. Many times I wonder what it is that God wants from me...from here. Life looks so different now. Years have been spent doing the religious things and sadly enough it seems I am so guilty of mistaking those activities for relationship. But these circumstances did not take Him by surprise - He sort of planned ahead for them.

In Psalm 97 there are a couple of very interesting points. Verse 10 reminds us that we are to hate evil and love God. There are no stipulations for when times get tough or situations change; it's always the same. But the next part of verse 10 says that He preserves the souls (not the bodies)  of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked. This is so comforting I think. He will preserve and protect my soul. No circumstance, no situation, no occurrence can harm my soul or my salvation. Salvation cannot be altered by trials or tribulations; my soul is safely secured in Him.

Verse 11 is what really caught my eye this morning. It says light is sown like seed for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart. Of course my first thought was how does that work? After a little meditation I think I got an answer. He sows seeds of light for those who are righteous so that when it is dark - we can still find our way. He sows gladness for the upright so that when trouble abounds - we can still be glad in Him. He planned ahead for our adversity. It does not say that He handed us light or gladness; it does not say that he gives it out when we come to Him. No - He planted it and allowed it time to grow and mature for the exact time we would face our darkest hour. He prepared light for us to be able to see Him in the darkness life brings our way.

He has equipped us to walk this journey hidden in Him no matter what troubles present themselves along the way. Today rejoice in the truth that you are a child of the light - and that He has removed you from the kingdom of darkness and placed you in His kingdom of light - the light He prepared for you to walk in!

Monday, March 19, 2012

You Think He Knows?

As caregivers some days are better than others; as with life itself. Some days it's easy to find that groove and stay on schedule to get everything completed. And then there are days where it seems like everything just piles up on top of you. We carry a constant load; even on our best days - or our infrequent days out - it remains the same. Some days we can simply take in stride and then other days little things pile up. (The aide doesn't show up and you planned on running to the grocery store, to the bank to deposit a check for covering expenses, or to the pharmacy to fill prescriptions. Or you plan a day out and the person who is supposed to watch your loved one bails on you at the last minute.) Any little thing can topple us on any given day...and it can all add up to a much heavier load emotionally. But it's okay. We are like the energizer bunny..we just keep going and going and going...you do not get to stop being a caregiver.

So how do we deal with the day to day struggles, disappointments or heartbreaks? Rest in Him. Nahum 1:7 says this The Lord is good. When trouble comes, He is a strong refuge. And He knows everyone who trusts in Him.(NLT) He is indeed our strong refuge. He has enough strength to carry us and our extra baggage! He is not just a refuge - not just a place to hide (which is good) - but He is a strong refuge. We can hide in Him and He is strong enough to protect us, carry us and give us some of His strength to make the day. And you know what I like best about this scripture this morning? The last part.

He knows everyone who trusts in Him. For me that brings an immediate peace. He knows that I trust Him. And He also knows how weak I really am - but that I still will continue to trust in Him. Today just embrace that truth - He knows you trust Him. He knows that we are trusting Him for our next breath, strength to make the day, wisdom to make appropriate choices, and hope. Know He knows you trust Him.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do You Ever Wake Up Tired?

As a caregiver, you know those mornings when you just wake up tired. It may be after a sleepless night or having to get up all through the night to care for your loved one; but you just wake up already tired before the day has even begun. Those days you feel like you'll never have strength again and it feels like you've just always been tired.

When I have those nights where sleep was constantly disrupted, my thoughts go to Isaiah 40:28. The prophet asks this question:  Do you not know? Have you not heart?  Have I heard what? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth...does not become weary or tired. Isaiah takes his readers through three descriptions of our Father: God, Lord and Creator. And then he reminds us that God does not get tired or  weary! He never runs down and never rolls His eyes - no matter what my day brings His way.

He is constantly watching over us to shield us with His grace and protect our hearts with His peace. I am so glad on days when I wake up tired that I can realize He will give me strength as I continue to wait on Him. (That's on down in this same chapter.) So today let us wait on Him for renewed strength. Today I will rest in His love as I listen closely for Him to sing over me. Care to join me?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How Long is Forever?

It is interesting to me that Jesus promised that when He left this earthly realm He would send a comforter. The Greek indicates someone who will walk alongside you, someone to stay right by your side to help and comfort you along the way. Why didn't He send a healer? I know that God heals, there is no doubt about that - why didn't Jesus use any of the other names of God when speaking of the Holy Spirit's indwelling?

He could have send He was sending a healer, provider, a peace maker or a way maker. God certainly does all of those things through the work of Holy Spirit here on earth. But Jesus chose instead to refer to Holy Spirit as comforter, teacher and guide in John 14-15. The fact that Jesus started John 14 with do not let your heart be troubled and then repeated it again in verse 27 of the same chapter indicates there would probably be some things arise in the apostle's lives that would be unsettling or troublesome.

Jesus indicates that Holy Spirit will teach us and guide us into all truth. But He called Him the comforter for a reason. (He never wastes anything!) Life can be unsettling, the life of a caregiver can stay that way! Those of us who are breathing (caregiver or not) experience life altering situations. Many things happen along the journey that we didn't expect. It may be illness, car wrecks, the loss of a child or any number of things that we really didn't foresee as part of the way things were going to work out...Jesus knew...

He knew that on this journey of life some of these huge things would attempt to disrupt our vision of God. Holy Spirit is sent to us to empower us to always keep God in view. No matter what life throws at us, no matter what comes up (or goes down) in a day's time - He is the constant comforter who is always explaining the Father and His love to us.

You know what the cool thing is? Jesus said that Holy Spirit will be with us forever. That is a concept that is difficult to grasp. Everything we know and experience has a beginning and an ending. But the presence of Holy Spirit in our lives has no end. He has made His abode in us and is there to stay. I think this is one of the most comforting things to me. He doesn't ever look at a situation and say, "Oh no!" Or "I didn't see that coming!" He is calmly residing in us to help us work through every situation that presents itself to us. He is here forever. He is not going away because we got angry with God or His plan. He doesn't tuck and run when those situations become more complicated. He is the only constant in our lives.

Today let us rejoice in the ever-abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. Embrace His comforting touch today.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Two Kinds of Broken

I heard a chorus last week that had this phrase in it: brokenness that separates. It really made me think of a lot of different aspects of brokenness and I came to the conclusion that there are two kinds of brokenness, and I am acquainted with both of them. There is a brokenness that God is near - the kind that says, Lord, I am broken before You and I need you. But there is a time when we are broken and in our self-preservation we draw away from Him.

It is not a bad thing to be broken before Him in humility. This is the type of brokenness that He is near, this is when we can come to Him bleeding and needing help. But the other brokenness is sustained by our departure from His presence. This separation comes as we try to hold on to the hurts in our lives and not release them to Him and allow Him to mend.

I have experienced this kind of broken - the kind that makes you mad and so you withdraw from Him in anger. I did not understand why these things had to happen (my son's automobile accident) - I had trusted God with my children and it seemed He had violated my trust. There were many days that I was simply angry with Him in my brokenness.

But there came a point when I knew I could not continue without His touch. This is where brokenness took on a different role in my life. My broken heart needed His oil to mend and I presented myself before Him once again...in humility and asked Him for help to carry the load that life had placed on my back. This humble brokenness is the one He is near...Psalms 34:18 says that the Lord is near the brokenhearted. We must acknowledge this closeness and not turn away from His touch - no matter how much life hurts.

Today I will make it my goal to keep myself before Him in humility. I will ask Him to bring healing to all the broken places in my life...will you join me?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Good Morning!

Jeremiah is sometimes called the weeping prophet. To many he seems to be a very big whiner. But he carried such a passionate burden for the people of God that he wept much of the time. If you briefly turn through the pages of Jeremiah you will find some very harsh things God had to say to his people. And besides obeying God and having to speak to His people in such a manner, he was imprisoned and persecuted.

Lamentations gives us a closer look into the tender heart of this prophet. (Yes, a prophet does have a tender side!) He wept over the disobedience of his own people and he did not understand why they didn't just obey God. I am sure when he was mercilessly thrown into the mucky pit he wondered if his life was over. He was left to sink in the muddy mess and basically left for dead. Do you think he ever questioned God's call on his life? As a caregiver and the huge life changes that role brought I have found myself questioning God about many things.

But in Lamentations 3:19-24 Jeremiah turns his thoughts to the Lord once again. In verse 19 he says that he remembers his afflictions. He did not ignore them. As caregivers there is absolutely nothing about our situations that can be ignored! Jeremiah speaks of all the emotions he has had - bitterness, wandering, and afflictions. In the next verse he says his soul is bowed down. Have you ever felt that way under the load? I am sure we all have from time to time.

Jeremiah then goes on to encourage himself in the Lord. He reminds himself of why he still has hope. God's unfailing lovingkindnesses and His compassion are enough strength to make another day on. He says that they are new every morning... sufficient to carry me through each day I must face. And then he speaks of God's faithfulness...through the storm, through the furnace, throughout this life - He remains faithful!

Therefore  - we have hope in Him!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Perfect Peace

Sometimes we look at the Old Testament prophets and think that their message was all gloom and doom with a few prophecies about the coming of Christ or the end times mixed in. But in reality, they were just people like us with a message from God. Not only did they go through many of the same things we do but they were moved with much compassion for the people of God.

Ezekiel's wife died and Elisha died of an illness. They dealt with life just like we do. Right in the midst of their words of reproof and judgment we can find many shades of grace. When we see all that they were dealing with at the time and then read a passage like Isaiah 25 and 26 it can bring much comfort to us.

We perceive prophets as very hard nosed, hard headed people. (And usually they are!) But Isaiah also understood the protection of the Lord and how to trust Him in adversity. In Isaiah 25:4 the prophet describes the Lord as a refuge from the storm and a  shade from the heat. Then in chapter 26 he continues with how the Lord will keep those whose minds are stayed on Him in perfect peace. What a thought! And here's the prophet's explanation of how that works.

He first says that we are steadfast if we keep our mind on Him. Then he says "because he trusts in you."  This would indicate to me that when we keep our minds on God it is showing how we trust Him. If we keep our mind on the storm, trial or adversity - we are putting our trust in the situation.

Today - I am aiming for perfect peace. I will keep my mind on the Lord and let Him fill me with His perfect (mature) peace.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Yet One Thing ...

It is very likely that there have been many losses for the caregiver. And these losses can cross many levels. For instance, we lost the person as we knew them and we lost our own freedom and lives.These losses can go to a deeper level when we look at how our emotions have been ransacked by the trauma, and how our lives have been turned upside down in the process. Now in reality most of us do not count the loss, we are motivated by the love we have for our loved ones and these are not things that we sit around and calculate. We just keep putting one foot in front of the other doing all the tasks that need to be done to make sure they are cared for properly.

In a life where many things can change with just one phone call, or one slight miscalculation, it is comforting to know that some things simply will not  change. Of course we know that God's love for us will never change. But 1 Peter 1:4 says that our inheritance is imperishable, undefiled and will not fade away... No matter what we go through on this brief walk through time the things God has ordained for us are well preserved! They will not fade or weaken. Our relationship in Him and with Him is secure. Our inheritance is sitting in a place where there is no corrosion or decay...

Today, this will be my meditation - I'll think about how we are hidden and preserved in Him. I'll meditate on all He has in store for us who love and serve Him how these eternal promises cannot be tampered with by time or life. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Who's Expecting?

There are a lot of scriptures about waiting on God. David used the phrase many times throughout the Psalms. A good book on waiting is Andrew Murray's Waiting on God. It's a 30 day devotional which uses a different scripture that pertains to waiting on Him for each day's devotion. It seems to me that for the caregiver there is a lot of that. For that matter, throughout our life time we will find ourselves in a situation where all we can do is wait on Him..

Psalm 37:7 says to wait patiently on Him. In all honesty, I must say that my waiting many times is far from patient. It's more whining, angry and frustrated waiting that eventually yields to a quiet and patient waiting!

But Micah 7:7 talks about waiting expectantly on the Lord. My first question of course would be expecting what? When my son was first injured I was waiting for the Lord to come in on a white horse and rescue us from the situation. Of course, that never happened...What are we waiting on then, if it's not to be rescued from the trial?

We wait on Him for hope itself many times. The next verse here in Micah talks about how we may dwell in darkness, but the Lord is a light for me! We wait for Him to shine His revealing light on our situation, for Him to pour His wisdom in to know how to deal with every situation that comes up every day. We wait for Him before we act out with the medical profession that seems to have forgotten us or is ignoring us! We wait for His peace throughout each trial that presents itself to us as caregivers each and every day.

Today, let us think about waiting on Him for our sustenance, our peace, wisdom to handle situations and our provision. He is more than able to handle our situation - and He is more than able to handle us in the midst of the situation! Trust Him for one more day!